Pregnancy is one of life's blessings. For nine months you can envision your beautiful child and all the wonderful things before him or her. As an expectant mother, you are doing everything to ensure the health and well-being of your unborn child, from regular checkups to prenatal vitamins to relaxation techniques. It's a wonderful time. It can also cause some stress and anxiety. What if my baby is born with a birth defect? What if he or she is harmed during birth? Doctors, like all of us, make mistakes, but the consequences can be severe -- for someone else. Keep in mind that they are trained medical professionals and are responsible for the errors they make. The difference between a birth injury and a birth defect Although most deliveries today result in a happy, healthy mother and child, every expectant mother should know when to speak up should something go wrong. The first step is to understand the difference between a birth injury and a birth defect. Birth defects are unpreventable health issues, often related to a child's DNA. These are tragic, but not legally actionable on their own. Birth injuries are generally preventable and may be caused by a doctor or medical professional using improper delivery or infant handling methods, which could lead to a birth defect. Here are a few examples:
  • Tugging, pulling or turning a child during delivery incorrectly
  • Not monitoring baby's distress or heartbeat
  • Misusing medical tools
  • Giving women incorrect medications or dosages before or during labor
  • Not performing C-sections when necessary
The errors of medical workers can harm your child in the short-term or leave them with injuries that may persist for a lifetime. These professionals sometime falter in their duties because they are fatigued due to working excessive hours, lack of experience and lack of preparedness. Regardless of the reason, they are responsible for delivering your baby properly. You can help prevent birth injuries Many birth injuries are preventable. They often stem from lack of communication between hospital staff or the reasons mentioned above. Fortunately, you can help protect your baby by being educated about childbirth and proactive before and even while in labor. Here are a few things that may help you:
  • Research your doctor and hospital. Know whether they have had complaints or lawsuits filed against them in the past. Read client reviews; are they mostly positive?
  • Learn about delivery procedures and devices used, common labor medications (and their risks) and C-sections (and when they might be appropriate).
  • Be sure to understand what is happening with you and your child at every step.
  • Ask many questions about your care, your baby and the plan. Even if you don't understand the "medicine" behind it, you are holding your pregnancy and labor team accountable.
  • Trust yourself. If you feel something is off, talk to your doctor about it.
You have every right to be made fully aware of all of the procedures and risks associated with labor and should expect doctors and medical staff members to exercise the highest professional care with your infant. As a mother, you have put your entire heart into having a healthy, happy child who you will love and protect forever.